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The Chicago Traveler

"Top Chef: Chicago" Has Much at Steak

by Matt B on June 3rd, 2008

This season of the Bravo Network's Top Chef was filmed here in Chicago, exposing competing chefs from all over the country to all the culinary treats the Windy City has to offer.

steak The last Quickfire Challenge tested the five remaining contestants' butchering skills. Each chef was given 20 minutes to cut and clean seven 'tomahawk' chops from a side of beef. They were then given an additional 30 minutes to cook two of those chops to the guest judge's (Rick Tramonto) preference: medium-rare.

Chicago has a long history with beef and livestock. Chicago was home to the Union Stock Yards, the center of the American meat-packing industry for decades. In fact, from the 1860s to 1924, more meat was processed in Chicago than any other place in the world.[1] As anyone from the South Side can guess, it was located in what is now the Back of the Yards neighborhood. One of the many companies to emerge from the Yards is the acclaimed Allen Brothers, which produces hand-cut and hand-selected USDA Prime (America's best beef). The Top Chef contestants were working with the best when they tested their skills at the Allen Brothers' facility in Bridgeport.

Rick Tromonto has been working in Chicago since 1993, after a three-year experience abroad in London. He is executive chef and partner of Cenitare Restaurants, which include fine-dining establishments like Osteria di Tramonto, RT Lounge, and Tramonto's Steak & Seafood. Tromonto was also highly involved in the controversy over foie gras here in Chicago and was against the city council's ban on the dish.

steak The Elimination Challenge required straightforward, skillful cooking without any twists or obstacles. They simply had to serve an appetizer and entr'e of their own creation during a real dinner service at an actual restaurant (Tramonto's Steak & Seafood).

Tromonto's restaurants are out in Wheeling, IL, and they are certainly worth the trip. However, Chicago is well-known for its abundance of meat and offers plenty of opportunities for tasty, juicy steaks:

Photo credit: (c/o SXC) Frans Andersson, Klaus Post

[1] Grossman, James R. (2004). Meatpacking. Encyclopedia of Chicago (pp.515-7). University of Chicago Press.

POSTED IN: Entertainment, Restaurants

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